‘Standing in the Gap’
Lindsey Deaton and her husband Kevin founded the KLD Youth Foundation ten years ago. Their vision was to help at-risk young people, the way Kevin had been rescued after having been left to fend for himself at just eight years old. He was later cared for and nurtured by a great foster family – the Shaffers, Lindsey’s family – who he described from the Book of Ezekiel as “Standing in the Gap” for him. The rest, as they say, is history.
KLD’s mission is: “Changing lives by educating and empowering young people, one life at a time.”
Today, they serve approximately 100 at-risk youth from grades K-12 daily. Lindsey explains, “Our focus is on challenged learners, those children with specific learning disabilities, or those who cannot perform to their fullest potential in the customary public school setting. We offer real-world learning and the enrichment and stimulation necessary to develop intellect, creativity, academic achievement and social skills. KLD Learning Center helps all of our students prepare for purposeful lives and reach their fullest potential.”
In Her Blood
Working and volunteering to make a difference seems to be in Lindsey’s DNA. If the challenges of KLD aren’t enough, she also is a Team Coordinator for Wayne Ivey’s campaign for Brevard County Sheriff. She concedes that she has always had a love for politics; her mother started taking her along to help on various campaigns from the time she was two years old. In fact, it was Governor Jeb Bush who once jokingly referred to her as “the only Cuban American that he knew that didn’t speak Spanish.”
Community service and family support were part of the environment in which she was raised, coupled with a desire to make a difference. That passion to be a source of inspiration and encouragement runs deep. Her favorite quote was from the late President Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”
Where Does She Find the Time?
For some, the contemporary view of women is you either make a difference in the community or you make a difference raising your children. Somehow Lindsey never got that memo. She and Kevin got married not long after she graduated from Merritt Island High School and now they have five children – Chloe (9), Ayris (7), Adrianna (5), Landon (3) and Addyson (1). For Lindsey, “There is nothing more rewarding than being a parent. My children bring me great joy every day and I cannot imagine my life without them.”
She adds that, more than anyone else, her inspiration and mentoring came from one source. “My parents are outstanding people! Each of them has provided me with a great foundation and purpose in my life. My mother led me into political involvement, and in life she has been as close a friend as a mother. My father created the best support system that any parent could, not only for me, but for my brothers and sisters. In the same way my entire family has always supported me in each and every endeavor.”
‘I Love This Place’
Lindsey considers the Space Coast an amazing place to work, live and raise a family. “The creativity in the arts, the tourism and hospitality industry, and some of the most technically advanced jobs in the world are all packaged in an environment that most people can only hope to visit on vacation. There is no better place! Living here is awesome! The Space Coast is also blessed with some amazing leaders.” Then she adds, “I love feeling safe and knowing my children can live and grow in a wonderful community. Being able to raise my family here is truly a blessing.”
But it is the future of Brevard that excites Lindsey the most. As she likes to remind people, “Children are 29 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future.” That is a future she wants to help shape. She concludes, “I love watching the positive development in the KLD kids. When a student graduates, having been given less than a 48 percent chance to make it to graduation, then seeing them with their diploma and on their way in life, it is a feeling beyond words. Many come back to see us and to thank us. One even brought her friends from college, so they could meet the ‘family’ that helped change her life.”